Lost in Transition

Hong Kong Culture in the Age of China

By Yiu-Wai Chu

Subjects: Asian Studies, Cultural Studies, Chinese Studies, Film Studies, Postcolonial Studies
Series: SUNY series in Global Modernity
Paperback : 9781438446462, 228 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438446455, 228 pages, June 2013

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Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. The Rise of China and Its Soft Power: Chineseness Reconfigured in the Age of Global Modernity
3. Central Distract Values: Or, the Donaldization of Hong Kong Society
4. Brand Hong Kong: Asia’s World City as Method?
5. One Country, Two Cultures? Hong Kong Cinema and/as Chinese Cinema
6. Who Sings Hong Kong? Remapping Cantopop in the Global Era
7. Conclusion: Toward a New Hong Kong

Looks at the fate of Hong Kong’s unique culture since its reversion to China.


In this timely and insightful book, Yiu-Wai Chu takes stock of Hong Kong's culture since its transition to a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China in 1997. Hong Kong had long functioned as the capitalist and democratic stepping stone to China for much of the world. Its highly original popular culture was well known in Chinese communities, and its renowned film industry enjoyed worldwide audiences and far-reaching artistic influence.

Chu argues that Hong Kong's culture was "lost in transition" when it tried to affirm its international visibility and retain the status quo after 1997. In an era when China welcomed outsiders and became the world's most rapidly developing economy, Hong Kong's special position as a capitalist outpost was no longer a privilege. By drawing on various cultural discourses, such as film, popular music, and politics of everyday life, Chu provides an informative and critical analysis of the impact of China's ascendency on the notion of "One Country, Two Cultures. " Hong Kong can no longer function as a bridge between China and the world, writes Chu, and must now define itself from global, local, and national perspectives.

Yiu-Wai Chu is Director of the Hong Kong Studies Program and Professor of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Hong Kong. He has published several books, including (with Eva Kit-Wah Man) Contemporary Asian Modernities: Transnationality, Interculturality, and Hybridity.


"…a serious study of the cultural dimensions of contemporary Hong Kong is much needed, and this is what Yiu-Wai Chu provides in his new book. " — Pacific Affairs

"This book is recommended to anyone interested in the identity and development of Hong Kong after the handover as well as to those curious about the consequences of the one country, two systems principle. Readers of this book will find interesting points in the author's analyses which cover political, cultural, and economic aspects. " — China Information

"Even though it is written for an academic audience, this is a very readable book for the average reader. It is also extremely enlightening as it gives us a look into a cosmopolitan city that is changing before our eyes. " — San Francisco Book Review

"…a heartfelt, even white-hot examination of Hong Kong culture since the territory's handover to the Mainland in 1997. " — Modern Chinese Literature and Culture